Over the years in pastoral ministry, I have been asked on countless occasions, “What do I do when I just don’t have a desire to read the Bible?” I understand the frustration. I’ve lived it. As a Christian, it feels unChristian to even be in that spot. You might think to yourself, “What’s wrong with me? If I’m a Christian, shouldn’t I always have a desire to read the Bible?” I hope the following will be an encouragement to you.
- Recognize the lack of desire to read the Bible is the work of Satan and the product of our fallen nature.
On the surface, this point may not seem very encouraging, but it should be. Let me explain. On our own, left to our own wills and desires, we will never want to read the Bible. Jesus believed in a demonic world. He called Satan the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Satan and his minions work ferociously to deceptively redirect our appetites toward other pursuits. A New Year’s resolution isn’t going to overpower him. Additionally, we aren’t innately good. We are sinful. Therefore, the natural bent of our hearts is away from desire for God and his Word. So what difference does this make?
Don’t be surprised by a lack of desire to read the Bible. In fact, expect it.
- Begin with prayer
Our fallen nature and the demonic air we breathe, pushes us away from engaging with our Bibles. Willpower won’t overcome it, so instead, I would suggest beginning with prayer. Talk to God. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer. Tell him about your lack of desire to read the Bible. Express your frustration over it. Tell him how you would like things to be. Admit your weakness to fix it on your own. Plead with him to conquer the spiritual forces of evil and the evil in your own heart so that even for a few minutes you’re able to crack the cover and read some of its life-giving words.
- Start small
Some people don’t read the Bible because their expectations are too high. They may have set a goal at the beginning of the year, and two weeks into it they’re behind and frustrated and give up. Setting the goal to read through the Bible in a year is noble, but it may not be realistic for the person who today is saying, “I don’t have a desire to read the Bible.” So set a realistic goal. Maybe 10 minutes a day is a good place to start.
- Capitalize on technology
Busyness is a problem for everybody, but it’s a lousy excuse for not reading the Bible. There are too many resources available to us today to use the “too busy” excuse. Use your smartphone, tablet, audio Bibles, and podcasts to help you engage with it each day. Skip the morning radio talk show and listen to the Bible instead. Taking the dog for a walk? Bring your smartphone and earbuds and listen to a sermon podcast or the Bible “on tape.” Fight for every minute of your day.
- Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder
A licentious man turned church leader by the name of Augustine (354-430 A.D.) in describing his lack of interest in the Bible once said, “I felt no need for the food that does not perish, not because I had had my fill of it, but because the more I was starved of it the less palatable it seemed” (Confessions, p. 55). Absence from the Bible will decrease your appetite for it. I have found the opposite also to be true: frequency with the Bible increases the appetite for it. It’s better to read 10 minutes a day every day than 70 minutes in one sitting once a week. Over time, you’ll find the latter option exponentially more difficult to do than the former.
One concluding thought: remember the Bible isn’t just a book. It’s a perfectly aligned extension of God himself. To read it, is to engage with the God who just gave you that last breath you breathed.